Thursday, May 31, 2012

Legislating Morality

In my recent article 'Is Romney's Religion Relevant?', I spent a bit of time debunking the idea that government shouldn't attempt to legislate morality. I point out that by adopting a legal system in the first place, a nation is, by definition, imposing some kind of morality on the populace, and ultimately it is questions of religion (in this broader sense) which determine whose morality will prevail.

Thus, the question isn’t whether government will or will not try to impose values on the populace. After all, no one wants a president who says, “I don’t want my decisions to be driven by any moral considerations.” People want a government that is going to protect them, which means using coercion to impose some form of morality and ethics onto the public. It is fundamentally a religious question to determine whose morality prevails and what is the ultimate criterion for determining what counts as ethical.

The way you can tell what the gods of a state are is by seeing who the final authority is. When you get to the point past which there is no appeal, then you have identified the god of that system. Because man is inescapably religious, all societies are theocracies in one sense. There will always be a point of ultimate justification.

In bracketing off questions of ultimate significance from our political discourse, the privatization narrative has not undermined the fusion of “religion” and politics; rather, it has ensured that the religious nature of politics simply goes unrecognized, remaining submerged at an implicit and inchoate level where it can be safe from critical examination. Because of this, political debates can get by with hardly ever backing upstream to examine the unspoken philosophical assumptions that drive the various lawmakers or candidates to such divergence understandings of the good life.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mormonism and the Trinity

To help Christians understand some of the key differences between Mormonism and Christianity, I have written  a chart showing the differences between the Mormon and Biblical teaching on the nature of the Godhead. To download the chart, click on the following link:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Literary Criticism and the Biblical Worldview

In an article that I wrote earlier in the year titled “Literary Criticism and Postmodernism”, I explored some of the ways that Postmodern theory undermines our ability to offer objective interpretations of literary texts. I showed that Postmodernism does this is by dismissing the importance of authorial intent, leaving the reader free to impose his or her own meaning onto a text. (Also see this humorous follow-up article I wrote.)

In “Literary Criticism and Postmodernism” I suggested that many Christians have unwittingly imbibed a postmodern approach to scripture through a failure to properly distinguish between interpretation and application. The question ‘What does this verse mean to me?’ often takes precedent over the prior question, ‘What did the author of this verse mean by it?”

I have recently broadened this discussion by suggesting some additional ways that we, as Christians, often unwittingly approach literary texts through a postmodernist lens. I have done this in my Colson Center article 'Literary Criticism and the Biblical Worldview part 1'. I show that the appropriate instinct to interpret everything through the lens of the Bible often misfires, resulting in an approach to texts which is little more than postmodernism with a Christian gloss. To read my article, click on the following link:


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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

First Aid with Essential Oils

In January of this year I wrote a blog post called 'Essential Oils', in which I mentioned that Esther and I were in the process of discovering the wonderful benefits of therapeutic-grade essential oils. Since then we have continued to learn many of the fascinating benefits of essential oils, particularly how they can help with children. This has led my wife, Esther, to write the following article explaining how essential oils can be used in First Aid. Below is her article. (The pictures are of Esther applying oils to our daughter Susanna):

First Aid with Essential Oils

The healing properties of plants are indeed wonderful. What a blessing to harness these natural benefits and be confident we are helping and healing, not harming.

As a mother I want to be able to use things to help my family without worrying about the side effects of chemical and synthetic toxins in conventional First Aid kits.

Welcome therapeutic grade essential oils! Plants grown with organic standards of production yield oils which do not contain any contaminants.

Because the distillation process for Young Living oils does not destroy the therapeutic properties inherent in the plant, you can be confident that you are not wasting your money: the full value of the plant will be available to you.

Furthermore, because there are no synthetic solvents and compounds added to extend the oil, as in most 'pure' essential oils sold today, you can be confident in their quality, potency and ability to work as intended. (To learn more about this, see our earlier post 'What is Therapeutic Grade?')

How to Make Your Own Natural First-Aid Kit

So let's see what oils you can use in your Natural First Aid Kit.

For Burns:

  • apply 2-4 drops of Lavender Oil directly on the affected area. Spray LavaDerm Cooling Mist directly onto affected area (contains Aloe Vera & Lavender oil). Lavender supports tissue regeneration and reduces scaring. Aloe Vera is anti-inflammatory and tissue regenerating.

  • For sunburn,  spray LavaDerm Cooling Mist immediately on sunburn and continue misting as necessary. Spray as often as needed. Follow with 2-3 drops of Lavender Oil.

For Insect Bites and Stings:

  • Use Purification Blend - apply 1-2 drops on location to disinfect and cleanse. Use Lavender or Peppermint Oil to reduce insect bite-induced itching and infection.

Chigger and Tick Bites:

  • Try removing ticks and chiggers by mixing Thyme Oil or Oregano Oil in a 50/50 dilution with a pure oil such as olive oil or almond oil and applying 1-2 drops. The phenols in these oils will usually cause the tick to let go and try to get away from the oil. A single drop of Peppermint Oil should also cause the tick or chigger to come out of the skin. Afterwards apply Purification Blend or Lavender Oil on the bite location. 

Insect/Tick Repellant:

  • Rub on Purification Blend, Lavender Oil or Peppermint Oil.

Cuts, scrapes and minor wounds:

  • Use Purification Blend directly. Follow up with Lavender Oil. 
  • Peppermint Oil will soothe, cool and reduce inflammation in damaged tissue - dilute with Lavender Oil or olive oil 50/50 if it stings, and apply 2-3 drops 1-4 times daily.
  • Geranium Oil regenerates and heals the skin.
  • The Melrose Blend is a wonderful antiseptic and helps with tissue regeneration. Use topically for cuts, scrapes, burns, rashes and infections. Apply to broken skin and open wounds several times a day. Follow with an ointment like Calendula or Rose Ointment to help seal oils in the wound.
  • If there is an open bleeding wound, first use a cold compress with a few drops of Melrose and/or Geranium until bleeding stops.

To Reduce or Control Bleeding:

  • Apply a cold compress using five drops of Geranium Oil, five drops of Lemon Oil and two drops of Helichrysum Oil. Follow up with Melrose Blend or Lavender Oil sealed with Calendula or Rose ointment.


  • Apply Peppermint Oil or Ginger Oil (you may want to dilute) topically to stomach  and gently massage or put 1-3 drops in water and sip.
  • Di-Gize Blend is a wonderful blend that relieves digestive problems including indigestion, heartburn, gas and bloating. Gently message on the abdomen. DiGize works really well orally as well! A couple of drops in a glass of water or in a capsule is wonderful. Or you can do both – topically and internally.
  • Lemon Oil also works great for acid indigestion (heartburn). A few drops in a glass of water takes care of it within minutes!

Motion Sickness:

  • Use either Peppermint, Ginger, Patchaoli,  Lavender or Di-Gize. Apply topically behind ears and massage 6-10 drops on stomach and chest 1 hr before traveling and continue using whilst traveling by placing a few drops on the tongue, back of neck, and inhale as needed. Or put 1-3 drops in water and drink as needed. I have found Peppermint Oil to be invaluable on journeys for both tension headaches and motion sickness.


  • PanAway Blend reduces pain and inflammation, increases circulation and accelerates healing. It relieves swelling. Dilute 1:1 with olive or almond oil or more if your skin is sensitive and apply 4-6 drops 3 to 5 times daily or as needed. Add to bath water for whole body relief.
  • Or Relieve It a blend high in anti-inflammatory compounds that relieve deep tissue pain and muscle soreness. Dilute with almond, coconut or olive oil and massage on area as needed.
  • Use either of the above blends in a cold compress to reduce inflammation.

Emotional and Physical Shock and Trauma:

  •  TraumaLife Blend or Peace and Calming Blend or Lavender. Use after accidents and for shock. Directly inhale and apply to bottom of feet, chest, forehead, back of neck and behind the ears. 

Prickly Heat:

  • Cool down. Apply Lavender Oil or spray on LavaDerm Cooling Mist.

 To Disinfect Surfaces:

  • Use Thieves Wipes.
  • Put 10 drops of Thieves Blend with one cup of white vinegar and two cups of water for a great surface cleaner.

To Disinfect Hands:

  •  Use Thieves Hand Sanitizer.

General Immune Booster:

  •  Use Thieves Blend as a general protection and immune booster to enable the body to fight infections and heal. Apply to bottom feet morning and evening or in need of extra protection, then cup hands around nose and inhale.

Multi-Purpose Oils

Many of the oils highlighted are multi-purpose oils. This is great news for budget minded moms!

Using the information on this page, here is a quick reference to help you put a First Aid Kit together.

Lavender and LavaDerm:
  • burns
  • insect bits and stings to reduce itching and heal
  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Trauma and distress after an accident
  • Prickly Heat
  • Insect repellant 
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Insect repellant
  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Insect bites and stings to reduce itching
  • Chigger and Tick bites
  • Cuts and scrapes (diluted to reduce inflammation)
  • Indigestion
  • Motion sickness
  • Cuts and scrapes and open wounds
  • antiseptic
  • stomach upsets
  • motion sickness
PanAway or Relieve-It:
  • Sprains and swelling
Thyme or Oregano:
  • Strong infection fighters take internally in juice or milk or apply diluted topically
  • Chigger and tick bites
  • Reduce and control bleeding
  • cuts and scrapes
Trauma Life:
  • Trauma or distress
  • Diffuse in the air or apply diluted as a great infection fighter and general immune booster
Peace and Calming:
  • After an accident
  • Cleaner and Purifier
  • Anti-infection 
 Thieves Wipes:
  • General disinfectant
 Thieves Hand Sanitizer:
  • General disinfectant
  • cleaning
To really benefit from these and other wonderful oils become a wholesale customer with Young Living Essential Oils. The great thing is that the wholesale enrollment starter kit item number 3700 Start Living with Everyday Oils, already contains seven of the oils recommended above. So you can begin to build up your First Aid Kit using the enrollment fee! 

Whether you decide to buy these oils Wholesale (24% off retail prices) or retail, click here for how to buy.

Enjoy serving your family.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Esther and my Narnia Reviews

When The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie came out, some friends asked my wife, Esther, to write a review of it. Later on when The Voyage of the Dawn Treader came out, I wrote a review of it which was published in Touchstone Magazine. Below are both our reviews, starting with mine.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Speaking Topics

To help promote my new book Saints and Scoundrels, I am available to come and speak at your church or Christian school for free, as long as my travel expenses are paid. Speaking topics include:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Holy Spirit and the Animated Cosmos

The scientific revolution forced thinkers to re-evaluate the nature of the cosmos. While medieval thinkers had described the heavens with metaphors drawn from anthropomorphic life, by the 16th century they were increasingly tending to describe the heavens with metaphors drawn from the machine. The Protestant reformation, followed by the Enlightenment, further contributed to this general state of affairs which some thinkers have described with the phraseology of ‘disenchantment.’

These were some of the themes I explored earlier this Spring in a paper I presented for a conference at the University of York. Titled, 'The Holy Spirit and the Animated Cosmos', my paper suggested that the pathway to recovering an animated view of the cosmos in general and our world in particular is not to go back to pre-scientific modalities, but to understand the imminence of the Holy Spirit in our world through the lens of Hebrew temple theology. 

I recently updated my paper to answer certain objections that friends have posed, though I will continue to benefit from any further feedback people may have to offer. The paper can be downloaded at the following link:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Never Forget

by Terrell Clemmons

I saw a rare thing today. A decade from now, this may never happen again. It simply has to be recorded and remembered.

We were visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, – 21 eighth graders, two teachers, and several adult tag-alongs. (I was one of the tag-alongs.) Soon after we cleared security, before the group had dispersed to walk through the museum, one of the teachers called the group aside into a small alcove. He had just met an elderly couple, and he wanted us to meet them too.

Mr. Pohl was in a wheelchair, though he looked quite healthy for a man in his eighties. Mrs. Pohl, also eighty-something, was pushing the wheelchair, and with them was a younger woman who looked to be their daughter. They were fashionably dressed, spoke excellent English, and appeared eager to speak to us. They were Holocaust survivors.

Mrs. Pohl spoke first. She had spent a total of six years in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, having been taken into the concentration camp archipelago at age 14. It was, interestingly, the age of the kids in our group. Her husband also had been at Auschwitz, and unlike many Holocaust survivors, he wore short sleeves. When she mentioned Auschwitz, he held his arm out and pointed to his black identification tattoo still clearly visible about mid-forearm. He didn’t say a word, but the mark on his arm spoke volumes. The kids gave their full attention as she continued.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jonathan Edwards and the Power of Positive Thinking

“Tis a most evil and pernicious practice in meditations on afflictions," wrote Jonathan Edwards, "to sit ruminating on the aggravations of the affliction, and reckoning up the evil, dark circumstances thereof, and dwelling long on the dark side; it doubles and trebles the affliction. If we dwelt on the light side of things in our thoughts, and extenuated them all the possibly we could, when speaking of them, we should think little of them ourselves; and the affliction would really, in a great measure, vanish away.”

Thus wrote Jonathan Edwards who was by nature a melancholy person. Edwards did not always succeed in dwelling on the lighter side of things (see my article ‘Jonathan Edwards: God’s Melancholy Saint’) and was often subject to depression and mood swings. He wrote the above words in a 1723 diary entry because he knew from painful experience that dwelling long on the dark side of things doubles and trebles the affliction. He learned to vanquish dark thoughts by extenuating the light side of things and by the time he married and had a family, he was a great source of stability to them.

I was inspired by Edwards' words to study the scripture's teaching on the power of positive thinking, leading me to publish a week's worth of Bible readings and reflection questions for the Colson Center. Click on the link below to be taken to it:

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Monday, May 14, 2012

President Obama and Gay 'Marriage'

Last week President Obama came out in support of gay 'marriage.' (Selections from the video in which he made the remarks can be viewed here). Moreover, the Presidents' itinerary suggests that he will have more to say on the subject of same-sex 'marriage' in the days immediately ahead.

Everyone is talking about this announcement, together with the remarks of Vice President Biden that preceded it, as if it is a real shock. To those who have been carefully watching the president, however, it comes as no surprise. Last year President Obama told the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the federal courts.

DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and mandates that the federal government can only recognize a union between one man and one woman as being a ‘marriage’. DOMA also restricts benefits to married couples.
The Attorney General also announced last year (on Feb. 23) that the President believes DOMA discriminates against homosexuals by denying them marital benefits.

The final stage in this process will either be for individual states or the federal government itself to grant legal recognition to same-sex 'marriage.' If and when that ever happens, we know from the example of Sweden what the result will be.

In an article I published this morning with the Colson Center, I showed that ever since 2009 when the Swedish government passed a gender neutral marriage law, allowing for homosexual “marriages,” the nation has been working overtime to try to eradicate gender distinctions from every other facet of life. There is a relentless logic at work. After all, if the distinctions between men and women do not matter with respect to marriage, then we might legitimately ask where you draw the line. If it is the case (as advocates of same-sex “marriage”, and now the President, argue is the case) that trying to preserve gender distinctions with respect to marriage is an act of discrimination, sexism, and bigotry, then why is it legitimate to maintain these distinctions in any area of life? That is the question Sweden is now asking, and the answers they are giving are hardly reassuring. To read my article about this, click on the following link:

Friday, May 11, 2012

CO2: Elixir of Life

by Terrell Clemmons

Elixir of Life?

Yes, 'Elixir of Life."  Elixir of Life is the label two scientists apply to carbon dioxide. Despite the fact that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared it a dangerous air pollutant, the son and father team of Dr. Craig D. Idso and Dr. Sherwood B. Idso, in their book, The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment, unabashedly say just the opposite:

"Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the elixir of life. It is the primary raw material out of which plants construct their tissues, which in turn are the materials out of which animals construct theirs. This knowledge is so well established, in fact, that we humans - and all the rest of the biosphere - are described in the most basic of terms as carbon-based lifeforms."

Indeed. "Not only are increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 not dangerous to human, animal, or plant health," writes Jay Lehr, science director of The Heartland Institute, in his review of the book, "they actually benefit earth’s many life forms, counteracting the deleterious effects of real air pollutants."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"The foundation of our philosophy is humility."

The words of John Calvin serve as a helpful antidote to one of the perennial temptations that Calvinists fall into, namely intellectual pride. In his Institutes 2.2.11 Calvin wrote
A saying of Chrysostom's has always pleased me very much, that the foundation of our philosophy is humility. But that of Augustine pleases me even more: 'When a certain rhetorician was asked what was the chief rule in eloquence, he replied, 'Delivery'; what was the second rule, 'Delivery'; what was the third rule, 'Delivery'; so if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, first, second, third and always I would answer, 'Humility.'"


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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

“I'm from the government and I’m here to help”

Former America President, Ronald Reagan, once remarked that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
Reagan understood an important principle: as soon a government becomes benevolent, the totalitarian temptation is sure to be lurking near.
Obama, on the other hand, appears to have taken Reagan’s terrifying phrase as a template rather than a warning. The latest example of the President’s “I’m-here-to-help” enthusiasm occurred on 23 March, 2010 when he signed into law a bill requiring every individual to have or buy health insurance coverage.

Keep reading...

Monday, May 07, 2012

Third installment in Gnosticism series

Those who have been following my ongoing series on Gnosticism and Evangelicalism will be pleased to know that the third installment in this series has now been published at the Chuck Colson Center. Titled 'Raised a Spiritual Body', I have continued the discussion of bodily resurrection, interacting with certain Gnostic tendencies that are prevalent in the contemporary church. This article gives particular attention to St. Paul's discussion of resurrection in chapter 15 of his letter to the Corinthians. This is good timing, not simply because it is still the Easter season, but because these reflections dampen the sorrow we feel at the passing of Chuck Colson.

Following is a link to the article, as well as a link to the two preceding articles in the series:

Further Reading

Eight Gnostic Myths You May Have Imbibed

Friday, May 04, 2012

Jonathan Edwards: God’s Melancholy Saint

On the night of 29th October 1727, the people of New England lay fast asleep. At 10:40 pm, the colonists were wakened by a terrific series of noises. The clamour built in volume until it sounded like canon fire was tearing the heavens apart.
While these dreadful clamours were heard overhead, the ground beneath began to shake so violently that people dashed out into the streets fearful that their houses would collapse on them. Standing outside in their night clothes, men and women found they could not keep their balance. Even when the earthquake subsided, there were continuous recurrences that kept the people in a state of terror throughout the night.
The event was immediately interpreted in apocalyptic terms. Even before the sun rose, folk were seeking out their ministers and making supplications to God.
18th century New Englanders had good reason to want to make things right with their Maker. Though only a hundred years had elapsed since the Pilgrim Fathers established their settlement in Plymouth, New England faith was but a shadow of its previous lustre. Historian Frank Lambert noted that many of the ministers “saw men and women attending worship services, but they witnessed little practice of genuine piety. They feared that, for many, faith had been reduced to an intellectual acceptance of certain propositions rather than a life-changing conversion experience.”
The Puritan minister, Cotton Mather (1663 – 1728), had seen the handwriting on the wall when he cited the old Latin saying, “Religion brought forth Prosperity, and the daughter destroyed the mother.”
Jonathan Edwards
The town of Northampton Massachusetts was like many others on the morning of 30th October. Though townsfolk were concerned about the broken walls and chimneys that lay about them, they were even more concerned with the question, “what shall I do to be saved?” Their pastor, the great theologian and revivalist Solomon Stoddard (1643-1729), was always ready with the answer, and pointed people towards a personal experience of Christ.
During nearly half a century of ministry in the town, Solomon had been involved in four other periods of revival. The fifth and final revival, triggered by the earthquake, was witnessed by his grandson, Jonathan Edwards, who was then assisting his maternal grandfather in the ministry. Two years later Solomon would pass away, leaving Jonathan to fill his place.

Keep reading...

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

From 'hatchet man' to Christian Apologist

On April 21st , an eighty-year-old Charles Colson passed from this life.

Alongside C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, Colson will go down to history as one of the foremost apologists of the 20th century.

The author of more than 30 books, he pursued a relentless schedule of traveling and speaking.

His Prison Fellowship Ministries helped to reach millions of prisoners with the gospel and to bring prison reform to the United States.

Keep reading...

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

May Day, East and West

by Terrell Clemmons

As far back as ancient Rome, May 1stMay Day – has been celebrated as a spring festival in the northern hemisphere. But in the nineteenth century, that changed. Ironically, though the change began in America, America eventually rejected it. In other parts of the world, however, the shift in May Day emphasis gave way to radical upheavals of whole societies with generational consequences.  

Seeds of Revolution
It began in America. In the 1800s, unhappy workers in the industrializing US began to agitate for a shorter workday – eight hours, to be exact. And it was the eight-hour movement which directly gave birth to a revolutionalized May Day. Not long after the Civil War put an end to real slavery, the National Labor Union adopted the language of slavery to advance its cause. At its founding convention in August, 1966, the following resolution was passed:

The first and great necessity of the present, to free labor of this country from capitalist slavery, is the passing of a law by which 8 hours shall be the normal working day in all states in the American union. We are resolved to put forth all our strength until this glorious result is attained.

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